It’s been a long and ardu­ous road for my ver­sion of the Mass Effect hero Com­man­der Shep­ard, but it final­ly came to a close last night.  I’m not quite sure why I put off fin­ish­ing the game for this long, but it may have end­ed up being for the best. A huge amount of the extra down­load­able con­tent, per­haps more than it should have been, real­ly enhanced my play-through and left me pret­ty sat­is­fied with the end­ing where most peo­ple were not.  Join me, or don’t if you haven’t fin­ished this game yet and intend to, as I explore how the end of one of my favorite trilo­gies in gam­ing made me feel and how it might have affect­ed me dif­fer­ent­ly had I fin­ished it back when it first came out. 


As with most games that involve moral choice, I tend to steer in the direc­tion of the choic­es that I would make per­son­al­ly.  The Mass Effect games were no dif­fer­ent and thus my Com­man­der Shep­ard leaned heav­i­ly in the paragon direc­tion.  What can I say, I guess I’m just kind of a pos­i­tive per­son.  Don’t get me wrong, when I felt strong­ly enough about a sit­u­a­tion, I didn’t hes­i­tate to acti­vate some rene­gade inter­rupts, but for the most part I like being the nice guy.

At the end of Mass Effect 3, I had long since been poi­soned with the knowl­edge of exact­ly what my choic­es would be and the con­se­quences of each action.  In all fair­ness, I’m fin­ish­ing the game just short of a year after its release, so this fact didn’t upset me in the least.  After being briefed by my choic­es when play­ing last night how­ev­er, I was more torn than I thought I would be.  Know­ing which end­ing peo­ple were call­ing the best, I first thought about choos­ing the destroy option.  It seemed like an easy choice, that’s what I’ve been striv­ing to do the entire time.  The only prob­lem was that, when think­ing a bit more about it, the Com­man­der Shep­ard that I had tak­en through all three of these games would nev­er make that choice.  It would mean the destruc­tion of all syn­thet­ics and my boy scout of a Shep­ard would nev­er allow that to hap­pen to EDI or the Geth.  I also couldn’t choose syn­the­sis, because that’s a huge choice for the uni­verse that my Shep­ard would nev­er make for everyone.

This left me with only one choice and a knot in my stom­ach.  As has hap­pened sev­er­al times before, my char­ac­ter need­ed to sac­ri­fice him­self in order for every­thing to work out the best way pos­si­ble.  This con­cept is a lit­tle tired, espe­cial­ly in video games, but I was at the very least able to swal­low the result.  After a slow walk up to each sec­tion star­ing at each of the choic­es for a bit, I final­ly made my deci­sion and saw the end of the sto­ry for my ver­sion of Com­man­der Shepard.

Upon see­ing every­thing the game had to offer, I thought about some of the pieces of DLC that I had pur­chased.  The vex­ing thing is that I real­ly couldn’t imag­ine the game with­out these pieces of the puz­zle.  The From Ash­es con­tent, while it doesn’t add ter­ri­bly much in terms of extra mis­sions, intro­duces a char­ac­ter that deserved to be explored.  It seems to me to be ridicu­lous that Javik would not be part of the main game since the fall of the protheans has been a major part of the Mass Effect sto­ry through­out the whole series.  He also has quite a few awe­some asides to add dur­ing mis­sions, espe­cial­ly dur­ing the trip to Thessia.

As per­plex­ing as Javik’s pres­ence is from the on-disc mate­r­i­al, I am more sur­prised that Leviathan was added con­tent.  I can under­stand want­i­ng to make sure you have some­thing that makes this stuff rel­e­vant, but this par­tic­u­lar piece of DLC real­ly should have been in the main game.  It down­right explains the ori­gins of the Reapers and makes the end of the game make a whole lot more sense.  Nei­ther of these exclu­sions are game-break­ing, but nonethe­less would have detract­ed from my expe­ri­ence had I missed them.

As far as the extend­ed cut of the game is con­cerned, after I fin­ished the game my curios­i­ty got the bet­ter of me and I checked out the orig­i­nal end­ing online.  It’s not ter­ri­bly fair of me to com­ment on this ver­sion, hav­ing seen the extend­ed cut just before­hand, but it didn’t offend me a great deal.  If the series had been a movie that had no choic­es or inter­ac­tions what­so­ev­er, I would’ve real­ly enjoyed that end­ing to be hon­est.  Con­sid­er­ing those inter­ac­tions did in fact take place, I can under­stand people’s neg­a­tive reac­tion to the cul­mi­na­tion of their actions up to that point.

Over­all, I actu­al­ly had a pret­ty good expe­ri­ence with my end­ing of Mass Effect 3.  It’s hard to pin­point why my expe­ri­ence might have been dif­fer­ent enough to evoke that dras­tic a dif­fer­ence of opin­ion from those that played it at release, but I have a few sus­pi­cions.  Either the inclu­sion of the addi­tion­al con­tent or per­haps my tem­pered expec­ta­tions from what I’d heard through the grapevine are the things that improved my expe­ri­ence over those that came before.  I’m inclined to think that the lat­ter held a bit more sway over my opin­ion, based on my past expe­ri­ences with games like Bion­ic Com­man­do which I had a great time with, but I do believe that both played a crit­i­cal role.

In games, and series for that mat­ter, that we invest a lot of time and ener­gy, some­times it’s hard to let go when the time comes.  Some­times, a series will peak in the mid­dle and set our expec­ta­tions very high for the dra­mat­ic con­clu­sion, which more often than not can lead to a bit of dis­ap­point­ment when it final­ly comes to an end.  Some of this is a part of us dis­ap­point­ed that the expe­ri­ence is over and it’s time to move onto some­thing less famil­iar.  I’ve put my Com­man­der Shep­ard sto­ry to bed, but instead of feel­ing sad that his sto­ry didn’t end in quite the way I imag­ined when play­ing through Mass Effect 2, I’m just going to look for­ward to the next, brand new, epic adven­ture that steals me away into a new and unknown universe.

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